Welcome, Claire. (Another of my Jodi Pioneer comrades.) She’s offering a free copy of Santorini Sunset to one commenter!
Since I write romances, people often ask me to define what makes something romantic. That’s a really good question. Let’s review a couple of scenarios, then discuss.
Your lover knows you enjoy reading. Christmas rolls around and he decides to show he understands you, cares about you and wants to make you happy. Which is the romantic gesture?
- 1. When you come home, you walk into a cozy den. A fire crackles in the fireplace. A fluffy blanket drapes over the arm of your favorite chair. On the table, a pot of Darjeeling swirls steam into the soft glow of the reading light, the fragrance of dozens of roses mingles in the steam. A pile of crisp, never creased books by your favorite authors and the recommended reads from Amazon sit at the foot of the chair waiting to take you on adventures.
- 2. Your lover e-mails you a $50 off coupon for a new Nook.
- 3. Your man takes you to Barnes and Noble, buys you a triple mocha frappe, buys himself a cup of black coffee and wonders off to the magazine section to browse monster trucks. Patiently, he sits in a cushy chair while you shop to your heart’s content.
You’ve had a really stressful week full of meetings, demanding phone calls, schedule changes and budget overages. Which is the romantic gesture?
- 1. At 5 o’clock Friday afternoon, your lover meets you in the lobby of your office building with an armful of roses. He whisks you off to the honeymoon suite at the nicest hotel in town. Champagne, chocolate, roses and bedding spun by angels are the last thing you notice before he pulls you close and you get lost in his kisses.
- 2. When you get home on Friday night, he sees that you’re tired. He suggests you go ahead and order takeout. He’ll go for burgers and a beer with his buddies.
- 3. When you arrive home, your man has run a bath for you and sent the kids to his mother’s for the night.
You have the flu and can’t go to work. Shoot, you can barely get out of bed and wish the bathroom wasn’t fifteen miles from your bedroom. Which is the romantic gesture?
- 1. Your boyfriend calls his grandmother to get her homemade chicken soup recipe. After shopping the farmers’ markets for organic carrots and fennel, he spends all afternoon simmering the healing broth. He delivers the meal to you on an antique silver tray complete with roses and a lace doily.
- 2. He sleeps on the couch to avoid germs while you convalesce.
- 3. He goes to the store, buys chicken soup and several different cold/flu remedies, hoping one will relieve your symptoms. He rents your favorite movies and watches chick flicks with you while you recover.
Okay, so what do you think? I’m sure Option #1 led to swooning. Option #2 resulted in groans and possible recognition. Option #3 caused some “aahs.”
There are three elements to romantic gestures: 1) Caring and understanding 2) Thinking of another more than yourself and 3) The slightest bit of effort.
Sure, Option #1 sounds absolutely divine. Who wouldn’t want someone putting that much thought into a gesture, but honestly, wouldn’t everyone be just as happy with option #3?
But do you want to know the secret to romance? Do you really want to know? It’s really very simple. Saying “thank you.” That’s all it takes. Appreciate the effort a person makes on your behalf. Sometimes the smallest gesture, like letting you sleep thirty more minutes while he gets the kids ready for school, is the most romantic thing a mate can do. Acknowledge that. The small gestures are what count. Sure, the grandiose ones are fun, but it’s the day-to-day things that show how much someone really cares. And those things should never be taken for granted.
Blurb: Caroline Clayton’s sister, Gabriella, is getting married . . . to Caroline’s former fiancé, Albert. Instead of drowning her sorrows in a vat of ice cream, Caroline recruits her sultry co-worker, Raul Sobrevilla, to be her wedding date. Showing up with Mr. Hotter Better Sexier has the desired effect. Both Gabriella and Albert are jealous and Caroline’s mother is speechless for the first time in history. Even Caroline’s dad is happy with that result.
Raul Sobrevilla hired on at Synergy so he could work with the best, Caroline. When she asks him to attend the wedding in Santorini, Greece, he sees it as an opportunity to prove to her that he’s her perfect partner both at the office and in the bedroom.
Excerpt: This is the day after the Gabriella’s wedding. Caroline has spent all her time in Santorini working for the caterer and organizing the reception and seating charts. Raul does this romantic gesture for her. Do you think Caroline appreciated it?
Raul took my hand and I followed him. Mother and Daddy smiled as we walked past them. They were moving very slowly. People milled around the yard, taking down tents and cleaning up the evidence of a party well appreciated. Raul helped me in the Jeep, even though I was no longer hindered by the confining dress. At the harbor, he pulled a picnic basket out the back the Jeep and we walked to Daddy’s sailboat.
Oh cool, a picnic on the boat. How nice. I was floored when he maneuvered out of the slip. Daddy never let anyone touch his boat. We sailed around the western point of the island and when we turned back eastward, I smiled.
“You said Red Beach was one of your favorite places. I asked your dad about it and he said that driving to it, like we did, was good, but sailing to it was much better. He agreed that you didn’t have any fun this trip, so we arranged this little outing for you.”
“That’s very thoughtful of you. Thank you so much.” I wasn’t sure what to say. We were going to miss our ferry back to Athens, but I didn’t care. A few more hours of pretend sounded good to me. We moored in the cove and took a dinghy to shore where we feasted on wedding food, wine and, honestly the best wedding cake ever made, if I did say so myself. The red volcanic cliffs soared behind us. The mixture of red and black sand was warmed by the sun and counteracted the cool breeze. The contrast of the deep blue sea against the dark sand and red cliffs could only be experienced in person. Even the most skilled photographers were unable to capture the magnificence of the beach.
My mind raced with questions for Raul, but I didn’t even know where to start. Hung over and dreading the long trip back to the States, plus the fear of what the answers would be kept me silent. I breathed the salt air, watched the seagulls ride the breeze and threw my head back so I could catch all the rays of the warm sun that I could. For the first time in a week, I relaxed.
My first impulse was to cry. There were so many pent up emotions in me that needed releasing and only a sobfest would purge me, but I didn’t want to subject Raul to any more of my emotional outbursts. Instead, I sat silently and felt the splendor of the magical place repair my soul. All the negative events were washed away and I was left with a future of happiness and levity. Raul didn’t say a thing. He let me revitalize. Something else to admire about him, he knew when to be quiet. When it was time to go, Raul took my hand and helped me from the coarse, rocky beach.
We sailed back to the harbor in companionable silence. At the house, we threw things in our suitcases and met
Daddy, who drove us to the airport. He and Raul had rearranged our itineraries to allow for the sailing trip.
Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpqlJumrDA4
Contest: free copy of Santorini Sunset to a luck commenter!